31 October, 2009

All Hallows Eve

Just wanted to wish you all a very happy Halloween!

I promise a real update on all sorts of things will be coming later this weekend. But, for now...just hang tight and enjoy your holiday!

23 October, 2009

The Creation of All Things

It's over. After three long days of working in the studio at Studio FAMU last week, the FAMU kids finally reached...the weekend! And this weekend was an interesting one. As one of the few FAMU kids that stayed in Prague this weekend, I decided (along with Kris) to explore some parts of Prague that we have yet to see. (Or at least I have yet to see...) But, before I get into what we did, let me tell you about the last two days of the lighting exercise.

To start, it probably shouldn't be called a lighting exercise. It should probably be called a cinematography exercise as we did a lot with setting up shots and directing as well as lighting scenes.

Day 1, as I mentioned in the previous post, consisted of portraits and lighting of an early morning bedroom. Day 2 moved a little faster than Day 1 did as we had finally started to get the hang of how to read the light meter and set the scene. We shot a hallway scene that connected into the story of the early morning bedroom scene, a mirror scene, a television in the dark scene, and a poker game scene with candles. These scenes were rather fun to work with. I got to operate the camera for the mirror scene and I got to act in the television scene as well as the poker game scene. I really do enjoy being in front of the camera occasionally.

After we finished up the lighting exercise for the day, we headed over to the FAMU main building to have a class with Pavel Marek. Luckily, we didn't have to discuss our scripts again and instead we watched a few short films/clips of movies that may possibly inspire us in some way for our own movies.

Day 3 started with the continuation of the poker game scene. We did close ups and shots around the table which are pretty neat. After we moved ourselves out into the hallway, where we proceeded to take over and create different lighting scenarios on the stairs and in the hallway. We messed around with mixed lighting and trying to fix florescent light color. We also did some shooting outside, which is extremely useful for Kris and myself as we are only shooting outside.

Here are some of the pictures I took during the lighting exercise:

The pictures are, in no actual order, lighting the hallway in Studio FAMU, Drew and Shayna protecting the "yummies" Kim sent to us via Gahut, part of the set in the studio, Dave and Tarek passing out after a long day, Steph filming with the camera, Kris and Gahut looking at the light meter, a picture of Studio FAMU and Tarek and Dave adjusting the camera.

Upon completion of the lighting exercise for the day, the FAMU kids headed home for some relaxation. But, before completely leaving the area, we stopped at a little Italian shop where I bought some ricotta cheese to make dinner for the night. Dinner would be gnocchi with chicken. I was making the homemade gnocchi that I know and it turned out to be delicious.

Later on Friday night, Kris and I finally got around to seeing Surrogates. It was a pretty good movie. And the best part was that it was in English...with Czech subtitles. The movie going experience itself was rather interesting. The price for a ticket wasn't all that bad. 129 crowns. I think that's cheaper than back home in the states. And then food wasn't too expensive either. Overall, I say that seeing a movie after three long days was one of the best things to start the weekend.

Saturday rolled around earlier than expected. I didn't get to sleep until late on Friday due to my current addiction to Dexter...I just needed to know what happened...But, I was then woken up slightly when Steph's alarm went off around 4am. You see, five of the eight of us went to Vienna, Austria for the weekend. They were seeing the Vienna Film Festival. While the other three of us stayed in Prague and went about a rather normal weekend.

So, after falling back asleep from Steph's alarm, which really wasn't a big deal, I got up around 9:15am and went with Kris to get a Thai massage before our sound class. It was absolutely amazing. I didn't realize that I had so much tension in my back and in so many places. While it hurt a little during the massage, the after effects made the entire thing well worth it. We then headed to sound class with Drew, which was at least interesting. I now have another way to ruin movies for people. Soon, no one will want to watch movies with me unless my mouth is taped shut. Oh well...

After class, Kris and myself went home for quick lunch break and then set out to buy tickets for our adventure on Wednesday. We got extremely lucky and managed to reserve the last two seats on the train. Should be a fun trip. We then headed out to Petřin to see the lookout tower and mirror maze. (I'll post pictures of these places the next time I go...stupid me left her camera battery at home...). They were a lot of fun. The views of the city were phenomenal. I can't wait to go back when I actually have a camera, so that everyone can see the amazingness that is Prague. Especially right now. The weather has changed back to normal and the trees are gorgeous.

Around 6pm, we headed back to the apartment to get ready to hang out with Rebecca and Lisa. We had plans to play card games and find out how their ten day trip around Europe went. It was a lot of fun. And it was good to see them.

Sunday was a lazy day. We were originally going to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, however, we found out that with children's films they don't do Czech subtitles...they just dub the whole movie. Which means it would have been pretty hard for us to understand what they were saying. Oh well. I'll see it eventually. So, instead I wandered over to Novy Smíchov to see if I could find a new purse as mine is starting to bother me.

I searched the entire mall, but to no avail. However, I did discover that my need to go into bookstores hasn't left me. Whether there was an English section or not, I felt the need to go into the bookstore and look around. I guess somethings just never really chance. I then returned home to make some dinner, talk with my family and Geoff on Skype and then continue with my Dexter addiction until it was time to try and sleep.

And so, here we are on Monday. The start of a slow week. As many of our professors are in the States this week, we don't have the usual amount of classes. Today was History of Animation, Czech and then the guest lecture class. Tomorrow is going to be us at Barrandov Studios watching the telecine transfer of footage from our lighting exercise. I'll then have my Acting Theories class, which is always a lot of fun. Wednesday is Kris' and my adventure to....VIENNA. But only for the day. You see it's a National Holiday and thus we have no classes, so we're taking this as day trip. Should be fun! Thursday is Acting Studio, Film Language and then my history class. And then Friday is a trip to the Jewish Quarter followed by Friday Night Fright Night.

So, as you can see. It's a slow, but fun week. I can't wait to see how nice Vienna is and I can't wait for this upcoming weekend. It's Halloween and I want to have a party and do fun stuff. I hope everything works out.

And now that I have told you everything you probably ever wanted to know about the last few days and more, I'm going to return to my addiction and begin Season 3 of Dexter. I'm just so curious as to what's going to happen that I can't help but watch. More things to come! Čau!

19 October, 2009

The Most Amazing Movie...That We Never Saw...and Lighting Things Up!

So, while I'm still semi-conscious, I figured I should probably recount the last of my weekend and the events that have led me to this point in time...

I said that the weekend wasn't over on Friday and I was right....more excitement took place on Saturday.

Saturday morning came around a lot quicker than I wanted it to. More sleep would have been nice, but you do what you have to do. Kris and I met around 10am to work on our storyboard before our meeting with Pavel Marek.

The meeting itself went pretty well. Kris and I are in very good shape with our movie. We have a solid story, a location and a possible actor as well as the start of a storyboard. I'm quite excited that things are going so well. Of course, I know there will be a snag. There is always a snag...but, for now I'm not going to think about it and I'm going to say that everything is running very smoothly.

After the meeting, Kris and I went back to our apartments and then eventually made our way to "This and That". A store near the CET center that was rumored on the expats website to have a very good selection of fall decorations. Well...they do. But, only if you have a house...they don't have much for an apartment. It was a very neat store though.

On the way back to the apartments, we stopped so that Kris could get burcak as this last weekend was the last weekend of the season for it. Once back I made dinner of mango rice with chicken and sweet & sour sauce. It was pretty good. While I was cooking, Liza, Drew, Tarek, Dave and Marek wandered over and we watched Twelve Monkeys while I ate dinner. They eventually all left to go make their own dinner and I got ready to go to the movies with Kris to see The Surrogates.

Going to the movies was quite an adventure, let me tell you. The directions seemed simple enough. Take tram 7 to Anděl and then tram 9 to Krematorium Motol. Well, we followed the directions and took the 7. Once arrived, however, we could not find the 9. After a few moments of looking, we spotted it coming around the corner in the direction that we needed. So, in true action movie style, we darted after the tram and just made it as the doors closed. Everything seemed to be going well...until we ended up in the middle of the highway. We walked down the road a little, trying to find the mall...and eventually we came across what looked like the "concrete jungle". It was then we realized that Google maps had lied to Kris and we were actually nowhere near a mall. So, we got back on the tram and headed back to Anděl. I knew there was a movie theater in the area, so we attempted to find it.

My lovely sense of direction led us in a big circle with finding the theater, but we did eventually find it...along with the other theater we were looking for. Turns out, if we hadn't been in such a hurry to catch the 9, perhaps we would have realized where the theater was. (This movie has become a trip for this upcoming weekend...here's hoping we make it.) By this point, there was no point in seeing the movie, so Kris and I opted for desert and drinks at a nearby cafe. I myself got a Brandy Alexander (that one is for you Manya) and it was delicious. Kris got a B52, which they lit on fire. There was also chocolate cake and crepes involved.

Sunday was a day of laziness. We had plans to go to Kutna Hora, but they fell through as everyone was so tired from Saturday. I did productive things though...like updating my online portfolio and cleaning my computer.

Monday and Tuesday were fairly normal. But today started our three day lighting exercise with Michael Gahut. While I'm learning a lot, it has been an exhausting day. I have learned about how to use the light meter. How to properly direct when in a studio and on location. How to make a slate. And the ins and outs that I never really thought about. Oh and of course, I'm learning how to light just about any scenario you could possibly ever want to light. Today's lesson dealt with portraits and early morning bedroom scenes.

After 8.5 hours of lighting today, we also had script analysis and then a meeting with Pavel Marek about our scripts...totaling about 12 hours of class with not a whole lot of break. But, that's ok. That's how I expected this program to be and so, I shouldn't be complaining.

But, now that I have physically exhausted every inch of my being. I'm going to say goodnight and curl up in my bed and sleep until the morning...when I get to do it all again.

So, goodnight all! More excitement ensues in the next few days...I'm sure of it!

17 October, 2009

Of Pitching, Opera, and Baseball

The weekend isn't even over and already so much has happened!

Majority of this week led up to Thursday morning, where all of us FAMU kids had to stand up in front of a panel of professors and pitch our stories. This doesn't sound like it should be terrifying, but the panel of professors was bigger than the amount of students we had in the entire room. Add to that the fact that we had seen FAMU students pitch stories to a panel the day before...and their ideas were ripped to shreds. Needless to say, I was terrified.

So, of course with the day going the way it was thus far, Kris and I had to pitch first. We did just fine. The story was solid and the criticism we received was
more about where to shoot, how to shoot, what kind of actors we would need, and other more practical things as opposed to story criticism. They did say, however, that our story was very fragile and needed to be executed well in order to make it all work. This was such a relief. After we pitched, everyone else did the same.

Once pitching was over, we went on to have the rest of our classes for the day. They were normal. Though, I do have to say that my history teacher is quite funny. After showing us some paintings from the Decadence movement, he informed us to go home in the evening and say "Hello" to the creature under our beds. He's a very interesting character.

Friday morning came around and I went on the art and cultural excursion with some of the other FAMU International kids. We were going to go inside town hall, but due to the crappy weather (aka snow and rain and cold...) we decided to go and look at some galleries instead. We saw one about a typographer from the 1900s, an interesting collection that looked like a child's drawing (the picture to the right is one of my favorites from this collection) and the Polish Institute where they had Polish designs of modern products on display. We were going to see Chopin's death mask, but that is not on display until next week, so we are waiting...though we did get to see the workers installing the exhibit. The Polish Institute building was a very medieval building on the inside.

After the tour, I stopped in Old Town to get a crepe for lunch and then I came back to the apartment and took a brief nap in preparation for the opera. Kris and I had bought tickets on Thursday after class to go and see The Marriage of Figaro. Prior to this, I knew very little. I knew the show was a sequel to The Barber of Seville, I also knew it had to do with the count trying stop the marriage, and a bunch of mistaken identity. But other than that...nothing. The most exposure I had had to these operas was this:

Rabbit of Seville, featuring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd (1950) @ Yahoo! Video

Turns out...not even close. As I'm sure you might have guessed. But, it was a great time. Kris, Dave and I got to see one of Mozart's classic operas at the Estates Theatre, which is where Don Giovanni premiered. It was beautiful. We also got decent seats for an inexpensive amount of money...350 CZK per person...deal! The pictures below are some that I took while we were at the opera. It was a rather awesome night.

After the opera, Dave headed home while Kris and I ventured up Wenceslas Square to find a sports bar to watch the Dodgers-Phillies game. Even though I'm not a fan of sports, I still had a good time. There were other Americans to talk with and it was just fun to see something American. Even though the Phillies lost.

So, that's about it thus far. The weekend has just started and thus far, Kris and I have been working on our projects today. We met with Pavel Marek to discuss our storyboard, which needs some work...but, we are working and getting stuff done. And later, hopefully, we will get to go see a movie. I haven't been to the movies since I left home and I do miss that.

So, don't move. Excitement, outrage...and at minimum another update are on the way!

12 October, 2009

The Arrival of Fall

I really feel that this is an appropriate comic to post in my blog for now. Here in the Czech Republic, we've actually been experiencing fall or autumn...as opposed to Maryland where the weather goes from summer to winter in a total of about two weeks. This is of course excluding the last few days where it has been rather rainy. But, this is the same sort of feeling I get when I'm looking out the windows of my classroom at FAMU..."oh the leaves are gorgeous. The hillside is beautiful....wait, I should be paying attention...but, it's sooooo pretty..." You get the idea.

But enough talk of how much I love the fall here. The end of last week turned out to be another interesting week. Wednesday and Thursday were rather normal by all accounts. I did manage to get lost in Old Town on Thursday though. I went looking for the books I needed for my history class and I first tried the Globe Bookstore that my professor suggested, but they did not have the books, so I thought I would try the other English bookstore, Anagram.

I've heard it said that you can only
get lost in Prague if you are actually looking for something and it's very true. Trying to find Anagram books took about 4 hours...and I never actually found the store. I wandered the same block, unintentionally, for at least an hour. I also managed to end up in the Jewish Quarter. Eventually, I did find my way back to Old Town Square, but I had given up on finding the bookstore at this point. There was a what looked to be a school band playing in the square outside of St. Nicholas' Church, which is what the picture to the left is of. They were pretty good and were playing the "Can-Can" song, so I enjoyed that.

Not long after this fiasco, I met Kris and we went for "horka čokolá
da" aka hot chocolate at the Cubist cafe. It was really good. When we ordered, the waiter was extremely impressed as we proceeded to order in Czech. He was so amused that he went from having very little smile to be all smiles every time he came over to the table. It was a really relaxing time before I had to go class and Kris had to return to writing her paper. Well, as I was leaving I grabbed my jacket off my chair and the waiter insisted on holding it for me as I put it on. I take this as a sign that not many people come in with the intent to speak Czech there.

Class went well, as did Friday'
s class. Friday night I spent part of my night hanging out with Shayna and Steph. They were a lot of fun. I then met Lisa and Rebecca at Friends for American Pop Dance Party night. I really enjoyed dancing and just hanging out with them.

Saturday during the day Kris, Lisa an
d I went shopping around...or more like pricing around for souvenirs. I actually wandered into the Tesco's other floors, which were actually really neat. It reminded me very much of an American department store. We stopped in Old Town Square for roasted almonds and actually found Anagram books this time around. I wasn't looking for it this time obviously. (Especially since I had already taken the books out of the CET library...). We then wandered for Chinese food, which was only ok. I think the place could have been better, but you know...it was an experience. I really do need to find a sushi place though. If there is one food I really miss from home its the sushi.

When I got home later in the evening, I found that Steph, Shayna and Tarek were watching I Love You, Man. I watched the last bit of it and then we all proceeded to make chicken schnitzel. It was absol
utely delicious! That's what the following pictures are from.

Later that evening, Kris, Lisa, Marek, one of Marek's friends and I attempted to go to a jazz club that we received an e-mail about, but we arrived half-way through the set and decided that t
he cover of 200 crowns was too much for only seeing half of the show. We wandered looking for another bar for a bit and eventually ended back at the same bar where I got a really good drink called a "Swimming Pool"...it was really good. Kris got a "Zombie", which is the picture to the left...it was cool to look at so I had to post a picture of it. After we finished drinks, we headed back home.

Sunday was a day of cleaning. I cleaned the entire apartment and it made me extremely happy once it was all done. I then wandered over to the boy's apartment for eggs and then out to coffee with Steph and Shayna. Sunday was rather relaxing and culminated in me making eggplant parmesan which was absolutely delicious.

And now it is Tuesday. Monday was a typical Monday complete with classes and rain. And today we saw snow...but beyond that...typical Tuesday with classes. I'll update later in the week as we have to pitch our ideas to production managers on Thursday. That will be fun. But, look for more excitement in the coming entries. The semester is becoming a film making semester. Cheers!

07 October, 2009

Rarely a Dull Moment

I've learned from living with the same seven FAMU kids for the last month or so that there is rarely a dull moment. And the last few nights have been no exception to this rule. Even on nights that are work nights or hang out nights, the possibility of something interesting happening is extremely high...and that is what I love about this group of friends.

When we last left the FAMU kids, we were headed out to Club Cross for a night of clubbing and fun. Now, as I wrote earlier I wasn't sure if I was going to stay long. Turns out that that night at Club Cross was an 80s-Calypso Remix night, which meant that I danced the night away with everyone. I even got the opportunity to do some partner dancing...you know the kind where they spin you and it is reminiscent of ballroom. I highly approve. I stayed until 3am...which is highly unusual for me, but it was for the best.

Sunday was a day of relaxation, I lounged and worked on memorizing lines for Acting Studio. I also made a trip to the store, but none of this is really interesting.

Monday rolled around and was full of classes. I got to watch The Apple Game, which starred our acting professor Dasha Blahova. The movie was awesome! I didn't know what I should be expecting, but it was really good and I highly recommend that should you get the chance, you watch it.

After class, I was hanging out with Steph and her friend, Gratia. We were playing a card game that I learned to play on Saturday night with the 32 deck of cards that I bought on Friday by accident and drinking some burcak that they had bought earlier in the day. We had just finished the card game when I decided that I should teach them 1000 blank white cards...even though the blank cards I bought weren't white.

I hadn't gotten that far into teaching the game when everyone else (Shayna, Liza, Drew, Dave and Tarek...even though he lives with us) showed up to play. The game ended up being a whole bunch of fun. At least I had fun. I can't speak for everyone, but it was a blast. We ended up with Liza speaking with a British accent for the game, Dave with a shoe on his head and pretending to be a cat, Drew always speaking into a walkie-talkie along with many other ridiculous rules. I would love to play again at some point. I'm also sorry that I didn't take any pictures of the ridiculousness that went on. It was awesome!

Oh, I also found out that just about all of them have been following this blog. I did not realize that everyone was reading. So, shout outs to all of the CET FAMU kids who read this blog!

Tuesday was another day of fun. It was Kris' birthday and she turned 21. Even though that is not a significant age to turn here in the Czech Republic, it is a very important age to turn in the United States. So, in true American fashion we decided to take Kris out to a bar...a gay, karaoke bar to be exact (Friends was the name). I have never had so much fun! And I know Kris had
to be having a blast. Everyone was buying her drinks and she was dancing and singing karaoke. It was awesome!

As for me, I had an awe
some time and got to sing two songs. I got to be one of the six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail as we sang a rendition of The Cell Block Tango. Other merry murderesses included Kris, Rebecca, Lisa and one other girl that we met there. Later that night I also sang Meredith Brook's Bitch, which is a karaoke standard for me...mainly because I know the words really well and don't have to read much.

So, as I'm sure you can see. There is never a dull moment when us kids are involved. There is always some kind of fun taking place.

And on that note, I'm going to sign off and continue to work on my current sewing project. I'm making a dress out of a button down shirt for my roommate Steph and then I will be making one for myself. I'm finding that since I'm not really working on a Halloween costume or six this year that I need a crafty project right about now and this is working great. I'm glad I found the pattern posted on my friend Shannon's facebook wall by my other friend Janice.

One more thing though...I think we may be celebrating Halloween as a group though, which will make me one happy person.

"Stay tuned folks, you don't want to move folks. Cause there's more excitement coming!"

03 October, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

I can't believe it. One month ago today, I had just arrived at my apartment in Prague and I had no idea of how my time in Prague was going to be spent. I was a bit nervous and a tad bit homesick, but still very excited. I don't believe that I've been here for an entire month. I've loved every minute of being here...well maybe not every minute, but just about. It has been a really wonderful experience thus far.

So, what have I been up to since I got back from Budapest. Well, classes took off this week and I didn't even realize
how fast the week went by. Kris is my partner for the movie that we are shooting in November and we have finally come up with a really adorable idea about young love, which is something that I would normally not do. (For those who don't know, I usually write and make films within the horror/thriller/supernatural genre...) We went location scouting on Thursday when all of our classes pretty much were canceled/moved until Friday and we think we have figured out a pretty good spot to shoot. We're still looking, but I think we're not doing bad at all.

Last night (Friday), after all of our classes were finished, Kris and I went and bought some wine, cheese, bread and deserts for our
get-together with Lisa and Rebecca (friends we have made from the other CET programs). It was a whole lot of fun. Just hanging out in the apartment and then we went out for pizza. It was a really relaxing Friday and I couldn't have enjoyed myself more.

This morning we had an off the beaten path tour with David from CET. He is definitely crazy...but I did get to see a whole lot of places that I never would have seen if it had not been for this tour. We started by crossing a train bridge and seeing a few trains pass us as we walked along the bridge was pretty awesome. (Too bad I wasn't quick enough to take a video or picture as the train passed.)(The picture on the right though is of the Prague castle taken through the train bridge.) We stopped to look at a brewery town across the bridge and then made our way to a more residential mall area where we got to see a synagogue...though I can't remember if David said that the synagogue was still in use or not.

After a small break for coffee, we continued our trip to the "concrete jungle" which was a bunch of flats that had been constructed in a village during the time of communism. It was a bit disturbing to be truthfully honest to look at. Everything looked identical with the exception of a few places that were being painted a few different colors. The right displays all of the flats in the village made by the communists.

We then took the metro to another part of the city and eventually made our way to see the TV tower.
Something that I have been looking forward to seeing since I got to Prague. It was really cool. Except for the fact that it had been built on top of a Jewish cemetery and you could see that a good chunk of graves had been moved. I should also point out that David Cerny has also placed babies crawling up the TV tower. He's such an odd artist, but I think he's become one of my favorites. The pictures are of the TV tower.

Once we left the TV tower, we got lunch at a pub around the corner where I had some pretty good goulash and tea.

That was pretty much the end of the tour and Kris and I decided that we wanted the cinnamon-sugar roasted almonds that we had found on Friday in Old Town Square (it is after all the cheese and spice festival until the 16th) because they were delicious! So, we wandered into Old Town Square through all of the tourists to find those delicious almonds! So worth it!

And now as I write this entry, I think I'm going to go and hang out with the others tonight when they go to Club Cross. I don't know how long I'll stay, but I feel like being social tonight. So, that's it! I'm going to finish getting ready and I'll update more as the month goes by. Don't move! More to come from Prague!